Thursday, August 05, 2004

Manchurian stumping

Rebecca Blood reports on the strength of Ben Affleck's commitment to the Kerry campaign. Springsteen with a host of other musicians will also be touring in support.

If announcements like these fail to excite, there's probably a good reason: An abyss distances the power these entertainers have in their own worlds from the power they bring to bear upon things like politics, which we in the US like to think of as a separate domain. I.e., Ben A. in a good film is one thing; meeting voters in the streets, he's a different thing. Same with Bruce, etc. Context has everything to do with their rhetorical force.

This is probably as it should be. But, speaking with complete speculative abandon, might there exist a hacker-type capability to bridge this gap between illocutionary and perlocutionary force, by tapping into the contexts of star turns in order to harness the full freight of their power?

I don't think it's been tried yet. Basically one would hack Manchurian signals, sleeping messages, into star performances in film or video. E.g., Affleck stars in a film, in which, when we first watch it, nothing unusual happens. Then, as his real-life candidate's campaign begins to build, a dormant bit of digital movie code wakes up. Now, as we watch the same film again (assuming we would ever do such a thing), Ben or Bruce starts projecting pro-Kerry messages. These could be anything from a silent icon to new dialogue or entirely new scenes that convey a political message, inserted like a trojan horse at some crucial point in the film or video.

Now it's Ben Affleck, or Bruce Springsteen, the star qua star in his/her own element who is supporting the politician. So, instead of futuristic and offensive highly targeted ads (a la Minority Report), we get contextually potent signs, retractively activated political product placements, as it were. The impact from bringing together the works and lives of stars, their heightened images and their ethical actualities, undergoes a quantum gain.

It sounds hideous, but not impossible. So, in good PhilipKDickian fashion, it's probably already on its way.


Blogger Bruce said...

So Kerry would have more and better zombies than Bush? yep, sounds quite hideous.

At any rate, in Bruce's case there's no need; pro-liberal and therefore nominally pro-Kerry messages are already there and always have been.

8/12/2004 9:42 AM  

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